I spend my days as an evangelist of the “Yes, and” mindset. Working with leaders and collaborators, I help them to understand with respectful engagement and a non-judgemental environment can do to improve their culture and consequently boost their profits.
I spend my evenings attempting to do the same with my five-year-old son Elijah. Maintaining a “Yes, and” mindset as a parent is a precariously important job. I have my good days and I have my “minimize the damage” days.
On the good days I succeed at 1.) being present, 2.) listening, 3.) accepting my son’s reality, and 4.) responding in a way that teaches, protects, and guides.
So on the “minimize the damage” days, it always seems to go wrong in exactly that same order. I find myself tired, distracted and therefore not really present or mindful. If presence isn’t in place, my listening surely isn’t going to be there either. Without listening there is no chance I can accept his reality and it is nearly impossible to respond the way I want.
I find my knee jerk and overly exhausted responses to be focused not on protecting him but on protecting myself. It is almost as if I were coddling the last bit of raw nerve I have from being attacked by his outburst of pure emotion. The very moment that I realize I have veered away from my best self, I go to work to “minimize the damage” and then reset myself mentally while restoring my relationship with Elijah.
The focus is always on getting back to yes with my son. I don’t mean the type of yes where I give him anything he wants. I mean that I am always focused on getting back to a place of presence, listening, acceptance and proper response.
Are you struggling to get back to “yes” with your child? Are there any times when respectful engagement seems impossible? Let me know in the comments below.